New campaign starts with derby delight and cluster of top games

Melrose and Hawick face each other in the first match of a brand-new Premiership season in September.
Melrose and Hawick face each other in the first match of a brand-new Premiership season in September.

The area’s rugby clubs have been carefully scrutinising the new national league fixtures recently announced by Scottish Rugby for the 2018-19 season in the newly-sponsored Tennent’s Leagues.

And there is a cracking Borders derby with which to start the new Premiership season – the last before the advent of the Super 6 structure, which will transform Scottish club rugby .

Defending league and cup champions Melrose will begin their double defence with a visit to geographical rivals Hawick on September 1.

The two had contrasting fortunes last season and it somehow seems fitting that a new campaign should start with a Borders-flavoured face-off.

There is plenty of opening-day intrigue in Tennent’s National League Division 1 as well. Newly-promoted Kirkcaldy and Hamilton travel to face Borders opposition, with Kirkcaldy visiting Selkirk and the Lanarkshire side heading to Gala.

Kelso are at home to Musselburgh, while Jed-Forest, whose superb campaign in 2017-18 came unstuck in a torrid Premiership play-off with Glasgow Hawks, face the lengthy trip to Aberdeen Grammar.

Tennent’s National League Division 2 kicks off with league newcomers Glasgow Accies travelling to Peebles, after taking the second-top spot in last season’s National League 3.

The first round of Tennent’s National League Division 3 sees St Boswells, who made a valiant bid for promotion last term, play host to rivals from Glasgow’s west end, in Hillhead/Jordanhill.

The structure of the Tennent’s Premiership and Tennent’s National Leagues 1, 2 and 3 remain the same as last season.

The top two finishers in the Tennent’s Premiership earn a home semi-final against the two teams finishing in third and fourth place.

The highest placed winner from the semi-finals will then become the host of the final, where the Tennent’s Premiership league champions will be decided.